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archive:blog:2007_10_26

SysPrep in Depth - Part 7 - Obtaining Your Hardware Drivers

October 26, 2007

Finding your drivers for SysPrep

- Using software to find them

There are all sorts of programs out there to extract drivers from your current system, as long as the device driver is currently installed. These products can be lifesavers when you have a device that was installed and you have no clue where the drivers came from originally. One of my preferred pieces of software is DoubleDriver. DoubleDriver is still in “Beta” stage and might not be in development anymore since the last release was quite awhile ago. DoubleDriver has extracted about 90% of the all the drivers I have ever needed to find but does seem to have issues finding drivers that use .Net (like ATI drivers), and a few others. When DoubleDriver fails for me I pull out DriverMax and let it take a shot at my drivers.

Thinking back to the instances I have used DriverMax it makes me wonder why I don't switch the order in which I personally use the two products as DriverMax seems to have a better success rate, but we all get stuck in our ways. DriverMax is another free driver backup product that does a great job of finding drivers and being able to back them up, and since it is still being developed it has a higher success rate then DoubleDrive. Pick the product you like the most, but I prefer using both to make sure you get everything you need.

When using DoubleDriver, or DriverMax, you will be able to detect all drivers currently installed, select from those you want to backup, and then back them up to a location you choose. Using DoubleDriver you will always see a large number of drivers from Microsoft currently installed in your computer, these don't need to be backed up as they almost certainly came from your XP cd (which we have a copy of in SysPrep now), or from Microsoft Update.

Using DriverMax these default drivers will be listed as such, and again, there is no need to back them up. If you feel safer backup these Microsoft drivers up you can do so without any worries. Select all the drivers that you want to backup by simply placing a check-mark next to each driver, clicking backup (DoubleDriver) or next (DriverMax), selecting a location to back these drives up and finishing the process off.

I have had times where DoubleDriver will give an error that it cannot copy a file; this seems very common in SoundMax drivers. I always find that it is best to take a look at the error, find the file that it states was not found and check the system yourself just to make sure. Open up a command prompt and type in the following command to search your computer. (replace file with the filename from the error):

cd
dir /s /a file.dll

If this command finds the file, copy that file to the folder that was created for that device. Keep reading if this doesn't make sense quite yet.

Now if you open up the directory that you backed up all your drivers to, you should see a folder for every device you wanted to backup. Within these folders you should find any mix of .inf .ini .dll or one of many other file types. You could end up with empty folders, folders with one or two files in them, or folders that are massive with who knows what in them. These folders are what we need to copy to our drivers folder that we created in earlier posts. Remember that once you copy these files you need to either change your OemPnPDriversPath or DevicePath to let SysPrep know we added new drivers to our setup, don't forget to update your txt files if using my of folder names method.

- Using the Downloaded Drivers from the Manufacturer, Google or DriversGuide

If you don't have access to a computer to use the previously mentioned method there are still ways of obtaining your drivers. This method will work, but you normally end up with driver folders that contain many more files (most of which aren't needed) and a larger driver folder.

To find the drivers yourself you first need to know what device it is you want drivers for and the manufacturer, model number, and reversion of the hardware to do this properly. Once you have this info hit the manufacturer's website and try to find the drivers you need. If all else fails, take a quick trip to google.com and see what comes up there. You may also try DriversGuide.com.

Once you have downloaded the drivers you will most likely have a .zip, .exe or .msi. No matter what file extension the task is the same, extract the files and copy them to our drivers folder. This is where things can get very complicated…

If you download a .zip that contains at least one .inf and one .dll you most likely are looking at the drivers and all you need to do is copy all those files to your appropriate drivers folder. However, if you see a .exe, .msi or anything else we need to try another method.

If you have a .exe in front of you, cross your fingers and run it. If it is a winzip self-extracting zip you have it easy, just extract the files and move them into your /drivers folder. If however, an installer started up, we need to try something different. Being as though you most likely don't have the hardware in this computer (otherwise you would be using the first method mentioned) we cannot install the drivers as they will either detect the hardware is missing, or install and then get lost in the OS since we don't know what files it installed.

If you have an exe and it was not self-extracting go download 7zip and get it installed. Once installed right-click on the .exe and under the 7zip sub-menu select “extract files…”. If it asks for a folder to extract to and extracts files then all you need to do is copy this folder to your driver folder. Whoever if this does not work we have to try one last method…

If you have made it to this step with a .exe or you have a .msi then I hope you have a good pot of coffee brewing. The best you can do is start the installer and see if you can find files within %temp% or, \windows\temp, that the installer has extracted. To do this we should first clean up two temporary directories to make this a little easier. Browse to your user's temp directory “%temp%”, and the \windows\temp, folder and delete as much as you can within these folders. Then start the installer and get past at least the first screen; we want to make sure it has extracted what it needs. Now, without closing the installer, check the %temp% directory which is within the user's profile, and also check the \windows\temp folder, for any new files or folders. If there are new files or folders you might have the drivers extracted and you can now move them to the driver directory. Check to see if there are some .inf or .dll files in what you are copying, if not you still might not have what you need.

If all of these steps don't work, then I strongly suggest you try to find the drivers in another form like in a .zip or get the hardware installed in your PC and use DoubleDriver or DriverMax.

I hope this helps you all out in your sysprep travels. I will be adding the rest of my planned post shortly, and additions to past posts topics, but with midterms and work keeping me busy it is a little hard to get these post up. Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think of these post.

archive/blog/2007_10_26.txt · Last modified: 10/26/2007 (external edit)